Dying Without a Will in Virginia
Laws of Intestacy Succession in Virginia
NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.
Below is a summary of the Virginia intestacy succession laws in various situations.
Deceased Person is Survived by a Spouse and/or Descendants
Here is what will happen if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.):
- Survived by a spouse and descendants, all of whom are descendants of the spouse - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit 100% of the deceased spouse's probate estate.
- Survived by a spouse and descendants, at least one of whom is not the descendant of the surviving spouse - In this case since some of the deceased person's descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse (in other words, the deceased person had children from a prior marriage or relationship), the surviving spouse will inherit one-third (1/3) of the probate estate and the descendants will inherit the entire remainder, per stirpes.
- Survived by a spouse and no descendants - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit 100% of the probate estate.
- Survived by descendants and no spouse - In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit 100% of the probate estate, per stirpes.
Deceased Person is Not Survived by a Spouse or Descendants
Here is what will happen if the deceased person is not survived by a spouse or any descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.):
- Survived by one or both parents - In this case, the parents will inherit the deceased person's probate estate in equal shares or the surviving parent will inherit 100% of the probate estate.
- Survived by siblings and no parents - In this case, the deceased person's siblings will inherit 100% of the probate estate, per stirpes.
- Not survived by parents, siblings or descendants of siblings - In this case, the probate estate will pass to grandparents, aunts or uncles, great uncles or aunts, cousins of any degree, or the children, parents, or siblings of a predeceased spouse. In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
What Will You Inherit From a Virginia Intestate Estate?
So what will you inherit if your relative dies without leaving a Last Will and Testament and the relative was a resident of Virginia or owned real estate located in Virginia? Even if you determine based on the information presented above that you are entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate, you may very well not inherit anything. Why? Because your relative may have left all non-probate property or the debts your relative owed at the time of death may exceed the value of the probate estate which will make the estate insolvent .
If you are not sure of your legal rights as an intestate heir in Virginia, then consult with a Virginia probate attorney to be sure.